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The physics of manufacturing innovation

ARM Hub is pleased to welcome Sophia Ahern to our in-house team of engineering, robotics, and design experts in advanced manufacturing. ...

ARM Hub is pleased to welcome Sophia Ahern to our in-house team of engineering, robotics, and design experts in advanced manufacturing.

Sophia is in her final year of a dual degree in mechatronics engineering and physics.

“I was interested in the space sector, so I was doing mechanical and aerospace engineering, and I wanted to study physics as well because I loved space and astrophysics,” Sophia said.

“But I found I was more interested in the interface between the mechanical and the electrical side of engineering as it would enable me to do work on satellites with sensors, so I changed to mechatronics engineering.”

Sophia is passionate about the environment and sustainability, and her Engineering Honours thesis she in the process of completing is in environmental engineering.

“In my thesis I am looking at whether the claim “Tool libraries are more sustainable than owning your own tools”, where I will quantify the emissions differences between buying and borrowing tools. To ultimately determine whether to buy or to borrow,” Sophia said.

Originally interested in a law and forensics, Sophia became focused on combining engineering and physics after attending a National Youth Science Forum in Canberra for year 12 students.

During the camp she visited the Deep Space Centre and was fascinated by seeing the satellite dish which was an integral part of the Apollo mission to the moon in 1969.

This led to her study in physics, where she studied quantum mechanics, fields, and statistical mechanics.

In 2017, Sophia visited CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, home of the large hadron collider as part of the London International Youth Science Forum.

“Sustainability is a big driver for me,” Sophia said. “Robotics is a tool for improving efficiency that you can apply to a range of areas, like manufacturing.”

One of her projects is working with ARM Hub member Young Guns Container Crew, which is exploring digital tools to improve efficiencies in shipping container operations. She is also applying her digital skills to improving integration of software on ARM Hub’s project management dashboard.

Prior to joining ARM Hub on a part-time basis while completing her studies, Sophia also worked for mechanical consultancy firm HeliMods developing and manufacturing components for helicopters.

“At HeliMods, I got to design and manufacture my own floorlock component that’s being used in helicopters now, and it was really cool to go from the conceptual design stage to manufacture in the one company, under one roof,” Sophia said.

Ultimately, her aim is to leverage the design and problem-solving skills she develops in industry, and the control design and data analysis skills acquired through her studies, to approach real, complex environmental problems with a fresh perspective.

ARM Hub welcomes Sophia to the team!

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